AngloGold Ashanti could invest as much as $2.5bn to $3bn to develop a gold mine in Colombia if feasibility studies prove the project is viable, according to a company official.

AngloGold Ashanti head of Colombia’s unit Rafael Herz said the La Colosa project is projected to have 12.3 million ounces of gold in unproven resources with an estimated 20-year life.

AngloGold Ashanti expects to invest $250m alone in exploration at La Colosa during 2010-12.

The La Colosa goldmine project in Tolima has been granted a partial permit, although a water permit from local authorities is still pending.

Once a water permit is granted, construction will be ready to start between 2014 and 2016 with gold production estimated to be seen in 2016 or 2017, Herz told Reuters.

Colombia is seeking to double its gold production over the next five years to produce about three million troy ounces of gold in 2015, Asomineros, the country Miners’ Association, says.